Clean water is important to both the public and business and thanks to a new rule drinking water is now safer in the US. The new rule came into effect on Wednesday May 27, 2015. It expands protection of areas not clearly covered under the jurisdiction of the Clean Water Act. The new clean water regulation, formally known as the The Waters of the United States rule, was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers.
The new ruling will make it easier for the EPA to regulate water pollution in “isolated wetlands.” It addresses a 2001 Supreme Court decision that challenged the EPA’s authority. The net result is that an additional 2 million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands will now be protected. This helps business and 33 percent of Americans whose drinking was not previously protected.
This is a science based approach that addresses the interconnected reality of waterways. The increased clarity about what constitutes a tributary give the EPA the authority to do more to combat pollution and go after polluters.
The EPA adopted the new rule after a year long period where the public was invited to comment. It has the support of both business and environmental groups. According to various polls at least 80 percent of voters and small business owners support the move.
Although there was some predictable push-back from the usual suspects. Legal challenges are expected and congressional Republicans are already hard at work to undermine the rules. The House has already passed a bill that would deny these waters the protections they are now afforded.
The implications extend beyond drinking water. These rules protect wetlands which mitigate climate change by moderating cycles of drought and flooding.
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